The History Of The Rumba Dance

Melanie LaPatinJan 06, 2010 | edited Jan 06, 2010 - by @MelanieLaPatin

Dont let your mother catch you doing the Rumba! This is a dance of raw sexuality and aggressive eroticism. In fact, I believe there are several states that require you to be married to dance the Rumba together. Of course, as with most dances of this nature, the ballroom version significantly tones things down a bit.

Rumba actually refers to two completely different styles of dancing: The African-influenced Cuban version and the Ballroom version. The latter is the kind you will see on the dance floor of your local city and in ballroom competitions, where it is the slowest of the Latin competition dances. There are variations of course, but generally speaking, the Rumba is a slow, sensual, flirty dance that leaves little (if anything) to the imagination. Bodies move close to one another, rub against each other, embrace each other, taking unfettered delight in the proximity of each others bodies.

Dancing on the 2,3, and 4 beats, the first beat is reserved for other moves such as hip movements and spiral turns. One American version attempted to simplify the Rumba to a standard box step, but this took the soul out of the dance. Except for very new dance students, this form is rarely seen today.

Like other dances based on the courtship ritual, the couple comes together, parts ways, and returns for more as partners tease and arouse each other flirtatiously. While other dances focus on the male or the relationship between the two, the Rumba is a womans dance. Almost Amazonian in nature, the female body in all its glory and charms are on display in her rhythmic, sultry movements, with the male used almost as a backdrop. Sex is a weapon, and the female wields it with no mercy. Compared to a serious Rumba, the Cuban Motion looks like a 4-year-old kid riding a tricycle.

Indeed, the original Rumba was an African folk dance that pantomimed a frenzied sexual encounter. The Africans had not heard of Womens Liberation, however, so the male was aggressive and the woman resistant but ultimately submissive. One version of the Rumba known as the Son was very popular with the middle class in Cuba. It is slower and but no less dramatic. The American Rumba is very similar to the Son albeit in a modified form.

Lew Quinn and Joan Sawyer tried to bring the dance to the United States in 1913. Other groups tried but failed for the next decade. Xavier Cugat, however (the famed Coogie beloved by Charo) was acclaimed for his Latin orchestra. Opening at the Coconut Grove in Los Angeles, he was a big hit and appeared in several movies. With appearances at such prestigious locations as the Waldorf Astoria Hotel in New York, he was the toast of Times Square by the end of the 1920s.

The 1935 movie Rumba featured George Raft as a muy suave gentleman who woos Carol Lombard through the art of the dance. In 1955, Monsieur Pierre of London (yes, London) and Doris Lavelle established the officially recognized version of the Rumba in 1955. Thanks to the version employed by this couple, you can now dance the Rumba with little fear of being arrested ” at least in most states.

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joinedJul 31, 2021